Monday, February 19, 2007

Local thaw

Last month, when I wrote a post called "Global Cooking," our local area was in the middle of an astoundingly mild beginning to the winter. Eventually, we would reach 37 consecutive days of above-average temperatures, including 31 consecutive days at least 7 degrees above normal, 11 consecutive days without a freeze, and 6 days with a high or low at least 20 degrees above normal (2 with both). On January 5th, the high temperature was 52 and the low was 44; that would be an average day on April 14th.

Of course, that weather was due in no small measure to the effects of El Niño, and when El Niño subsided, inevitably so did the heat wave. Here, the warm weather finally ended in mid-January, and the cold arrived on January 28th. For the past 23 days, temperatures have been below normal, including one particularly bitter day when the high temperature was just 6 degrees (forcing a cancellation of ski school because it was too cold!).

Inevitably, this has led to some caustic remarks from people wondering what happened to "Global Warming." As if a single cold spell (or heat wave, for that matter), is the true indicator.

So, here's a little data:
1. January, despite the cold 2nd half, was globally the warmest January on record, by a rather wide margin. Global surface temperatures for the month were 1.53 degrees above normal, fully a quarter degree above the prior record.
2. Despite the 23 consecutive days of below normal temperatures, the winter up here in southeast Michigan is still averaging 1.7 degrees above normal.

That said, it's nice to be above freezing for the first time in more than 3 weeks.

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